Fleeing Tuz Khormato Residents put Strain on Kirkuk

On April 27, a cease-fire came into effect that has thus far reduced violence in the town. But Khurshid, who has been living in Kirkuk for over four months, said he needs to see more improvement before he returns. “When the situation is quiet I’ll be back. If it keeps going like it is now I can never go back. Until now there have been 12 cease-fires, but after a day they break.” The cease-fire was violated just last week, and the conflict in November clearly did not end the fighting for good.

In the meantime, Khurshid rents a home with about half a dozen other family members in Kirkuk. “Life is good and normal here. There are no problems between sects. Inside Kirkuk, all who fled are good.”

Bahr Amin Mohammad, who owns a clothing store in Tuz Khormato, took his family to Kirkuk on April 24. He is now bouncing between relatives indefinitely. “I fled suddenly and left everything in the house except my wife and kids,” he told Al-Monitor. Mohammad, who has a few family members still in the city, says attacks by militias on Kurdish homes and accompanied looting prompted him to leave.

Like Khurshid, Mohammad is wary of returning. “Personally, I decided it will never return to safety. I’ll sell my shop and live in Kirkuk from now on for my kids’ sake,” he said. Even returning briefly to check his shop has proven too dangerous. “I planned to return once but heard there were snipers out and didn’t go,” he added.

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